mile 301.3 – mile 314.5
Wang and I had a great camp spot last night- soft sand floor and water babbling next to us all night. My sleep was broken only by my need to pee and deal with my lady business at 3:30 in the morning. At least it was a warm-ish, dry night! A little tip for you: if you are primitive camping and you have any inkling that you might need to get up in the night and take care of any kind of serious business involving digging a hole, it’s best to scope that situation out while it’s still daylight.
Other than that, I slept like a baby, all the way until 5:45! Wang and I started walking around 6:45, our main objective to make it to the Deep Creek hot springs. Yes, the hot springs!
Having been a warm night, it was hot as soon as the sun came up. We walked ridges all morning high above Deep Creek. It was so beautiful!
Several miles in, we stopped and got water at a tiny creek. We stayed there for awhile, having a snack, filtering water, airing out our feet. Then, on we hiked.
When the day was getting almost too hot to bear, we reached the hot springs!!! We had heard all kinds of crazy things about the “naked old dudes” who hang out at the hot springs, so I was kind of expecting it to be a little weird there, but it was great. There were some people who had camped there, though you’re not supposed to, and there were a lot of people in the water. We soaked in one of the pools for awhile- soaking my right hamstring felt great. Then, we got out and ate lunch while we dried off. It was so peaceful.
While we were eating, Richard, one of the “old dudes” came down the hill and started picking up trash. We started talking to him and got more of a story about the springs. These hot springs, like many hot springs, I think, were considered sacred by the native peoples. The area was considered a place of truce, where no fighting would occur. There is somewhere similar up near Taos, NM, considered a place where all tribes could bring their sick to be healed. So, these “naked old dudes” have been coming here since the 1970’s and also consider this a spiritual place of healing. They are actually the ones who built the different pools with different temperatures. They are the ones who maintain the pool structures, and they are the ones who clean up after all of the people who come in to party and leave all their trash behind. They are the ones who truly care for the place. I’m glad we got to meet a couple of them and learn the other side of the story. I wish we could have stayed longer!
Just as we were about to leave, we saw GB walk up. We went over to say hi, then we took off. The trail kept following the creek all the way to rainbow bridge, which we crossed gleefully. I don’t know who built and painted it, but I wish I could give them a hug. The bridge took us across the creek and we walked along the other side for awhile.
By this time, we had already put on our umbrellas. Wang and I both have hiking umbrellas that we use when the sun is just too much. (I also use mine as a poop shield). We have them rigged so they are hands-free. My umbrella definitely wins gear VIP for the day. It saved me! It was so HOT up on that ridge!
Along we walked, past so many wild flowers, watching the blue-green water below tumble over smooth rocks, marveling at the amazing work the trail crews had done to build this section. We walked and walked all the way to the Mojave River Forks Dam, where we collapsed into the concrete shade. There we stayed for at least two hours. I talked to Hunter for awhile and we ate a snack and dried out our tents. As we were packing up, GB came down the trail and collapsed next to us. It was a hot stretch of trail at that time of day.
Wang and I wanted to get a few more miles in and GB decided to come with us, so we all continued our hike together. It couldn’t have been even a half mile later when we had to take off our shoes to ford a creek, which felt amazing. Once on the other side, we gathered the creek water and sat filtering it as other hikers showed up, all wondering where to camp that night. A lot of the them stayed there, we learned the next day.
The three of us hiked on maybe another mile or so and stopped when we saw that we were about to do more ridge walking, which might mean we wouldn’t be able to find a camp spot any time soon. We had landed in a wide field full of tall purple grass, so we took a look around and found a nice sandy-soft camp spot between some bushes. It was such a nice evening! We chatted and made dinner and talked about what we will all eat when we get to McDonald’s in a couple of days and planned the next days so we would be there for breakfast AND lunch. And, for once, we got to see the sunset!
Today I met Richard, a former TV exec and current associate director of a ski school in the area. He comes down to the hot springs a few times a week in the spring and fall and picks up people’s trash and enjoy the springs. He was SO nice!
Today I learned:
– You can’t believe everything you hear on the PCT grapevine, just like in real life.
– Again, if you think you might need to “dig a hole” in the middle of the night, it’s best to scope out that situation in the daylight.
Today’s hike was powered by a soak in a hot springs and dreams of McDonald’s.